Fenerbahce is one of the most established Volleyball brands in Europe, with roots going back to 1928. Their record in recent years is unmatched: second in the 2010 CEV Champions League, the year they went on to win the Club World Championship, third in 2011 and first in 2012. Their mostly Turkish roster is supplemented by two key Brazilian stars, Paula Pequeno and Marianne Steinbrecher, aka Mari. Making the best use of these outstanding individuals is the job of Kamil Soz, Fenerbahce new coach. Their first test will be against Lancheras de Catano of Puerto Rico at 17:00 local time October 15.
Rabita BAKU, in comparison, is a relatively new power on the European scene. The team has come of age after a few years of building following their establishment in 2001. Rabita started branching out into international competition in 2008. They quickly established a strong reputation, finishing second in the 2011 CEV Volleyball Champions League. They surprised many observers by sweeping aside all opposition to take the world club title in Doha in 2011 (see picture).
Rabita BAKU all-international roster is led by USA star and 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix MVP Foluke Akinradewo, along with German attacking powerhouse Angelina Hübner-Grün. Together, these two players give Rabita an offensive power any rival will be hard-pressed to contain. Their new head coach, Marcello Abbondanza, is a veteran of the Italian league as well as international Volleyball. Rabita will begin their title defense with a clash of the titans against Sollys/Nestlé at 15:00 local time October 15.
On paper, Sollys may well have the strongest lineup in Doha, with no fewer than five players from this summer’s Olympic Gold winning Brazilian squad, including Jaqueline Carvalho, Thaisa Menezes and Sheilla Castro. Sollys won silver in 2010 and bronze in 2011 at the Club World Championships, and will be aiming to complete their medal set.
This year’s potential surprise package, Bohai Bank, get their first court time at 10:00 local time on October 14 against the powerhouse Sollys/Nestlé squad. With China national team players such as Yin Na, Chen Liyi, and Olympians Zhang Xian and Mi Yang suiting up for Bohai, they could be a strong contender. Bohai’s coach, Wang Baoquan, certainly knows what it takes to win at the highest level – he coached China’s senior team before his health forced him to give up coaching for a time.
Lancheras are a bit of a mystery coming into the tournament, as the other women’s squad making their debut this year. The club was formed only three years ago but has already won a national championship in Puerto Rico. With a number of internationally, experienced players on the roster, including national team players Debora Seilhamer, Tatiana Encarnación, Yarimar Rosa, Shanon Torregrosa, Jetzabel Del Valle and Natalia Valentin. Lancheras have high expectations for the Club World Championships. Their first match, the tournament opener, sets them against Kenya Prisons at 10:00 local time on Saturday.
This is Prisons’ third appearance in the Club World Championship. The perennial African champions have finished bottom of their pool in both of their previous attempts, and are looking to make a significant improvement on that performance this year. Coach David Lung’aho has shaken up the squad for 2012. Veteran libero Judy Tarus and up and comer Florence Bosire are not with the team this year, leaving Kenyan national team players Jane Wairimu, Diana Khisa, Lydia Maiyo, Everlyne Makutu and Mercy Moim to carry the club’s hopes.
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